Greetings From the Outback: Heather Garside

garside_logo.jpgGreetings from Queensland, Australia! 

My novels are set in the late nineteenth century Outback, when the area I write about was still quite newly settled. Imagine riding a hundred miles side-saddle, as my heroine does, through untamed bush with only a dusty track to follow. Then, when she finds that track won’t lead her to her destination, she joins a cattle drive through even more untamed bush. Perhaps it’s just as well the man in charge of the cattle persists in asking impertinent questions about why she’s travelling alone, and generally distracts her from the discomforts of droving life! 

a_hidden_legacy.JPGMy background is a little different to most authors. I was raised on a large cattle station in central Queensland and I grew up riding horses, rounding up cattle and playing cowboys on horseback. I’ve always been fascinated by the Wild West as well as Australia’s own frontier history, which is every bit as wild if less well-known. Some of the incidents my characters experience, such as galloping through thick timber in an attempt to control half-wild cattle, drinking billy tea brewed on the campfire and sleeping beneath the stars in a bedroll (or swag as we call it), are things I have done myself.  As they say, ‘write what you know’, and it certainly helps to have that first-hand knowledge.  To handle cattle, Australian stockmen use different techniques from the American cowboys. the_cornstalk.JPGOne of the big differences is throwing and tying wild cattle rather than roping them. Perhaps this practice originated because roping is impracticable in heavily timbered country. To do this, the stockman will ride his horse up close to a fleeing cow or steer and lean over to grasp its tail. As he gallops past the animal, he pulls the tail and the beast is thrown off its feet. Then he has to dismount in a hurry and be upon the winded beast to tie its legs before it can regain its feet. A second method is to stay with the animal until it tires. The stockman dismounts and grasps the animal’s tail, waiting until it turns to charge him before pulling it off its feet.  

As you can imagine, neither method is for the faint-hearted or the unskilled! In my second novel, A Hidden Legacy, the hero throws a young bull in this manner, with disastrous consequences.  My two books, The Cornstalk and A Hidden Legacy, are available from Wings ePress and Amazon.Heather is giving away an autographed copy of The Cornstalk to one lucky reader who posts here this weekend!

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36 thoughts on “Greetings From the Outback: Heather Garside”

  1. Wow, Heather, what an amazing experience you’ve had, growing up on a cattle station in Australia! It sounds so romantic, but I bet it was filled with extremely hard work. Also interesting is the difference in how cattle are handled between Australia and the U.S.. I didn’t know that. Your books sound fascinating! Yee-ha! 🙂


  2. Hi Kate,
    Yes, it was a different upbringing, but very isolated. Luckily I had 2 brothers and a sister, as we seldom saw other children. We did our schooling by correspondence. And rounding up cattle is hard work – long days and very hot in the summmer time! It’s challenging but probably not very romantic in actual fact – but it’s fun to write about it!


  3. Wow,how interesting Heather,I would love to visit Auustralia some day,an I thought walking miles to the store as a kid was tough,in the deep south we just to walk barefoot all summer an just be a kid a play outside,unlike kids today who you cant get to hardly go outside

  4. You were lucky to have that kind of freedom, Vickie. It’s something most children today haven’t learnt to enjoy. Computers and TV are too addictive, and parents are worried about the safety of their kids – understandably.
    My chidren had that freedom, growing up on the farm , but they didn’t spend as much time outdoors as we did.

  5. The first Australian ‘cowboy’ book I ever read was a Zane Gray. Can’t remember the name of it, but loved transplanting an American cowboy to the Outback. Even with your poisonous spiders (I shudder to think of them) and snakes, Outback does have a romantic feel to the American mind, I think.

    I spent a little of my growing up time on a sheep ranch. The round ups were a little different there. LOL

  6. I’ve always been intrigued by Australia. Sounds like I need to go pick up your books, they look very interesting.

  7. Wow growing up in your own Wild West sounds great!!! You can always step into the shoes of one’s characters to see how they lived, but you actually grew up in a world like those of the characters we read about!!! 🙂

  8. Heather, welcome to Petticoats and Pistols! I’m so happy you could come blog with us. I’m curious about Aussie cowboys. I assume they’re somewhat similar to American cowboys — rough and tough and all men. I can’t believe the Aussie ones can throw cow by pulling on his tail. My gosh! That’s amazing.

    Love the cover of you new book. It looks great. I’ll have to look for it. Hope you have a wonderful day!

  9. Wow what alot of wonderful experiences you must have growing up like that. I have always wanted to go to Austalia. I’ve never read a book with a Austalian Cowboy in it That’ll definatley have to go on my books to get.Enjoyed your post.

  10. Hi Heahter ~ Welcome to Petticoats & Pistols!

    Love those rugged Austrailian cowboys!!! Can’t get much wilder terain than the Outback. What fascinating personal experiences you’ve had! Thanks for sharing–I’m looking forward to reading your books 🙂

  11. Welcome to Petticoats and Pistols, Heather! How strange to know it’s in the middle of the night where you are, and you’re sleeping away as I write this. 🙂

    I really enjoyed your post! Fascinating how the stockmen grab the wild cow’s tails!! You’re right–they’d have to have nerves of steel.

    Thank you for being here today!

  12. Thanks for your welcome and to everyone who posted a comment while I was asleep! As Linda suggested, Australian stockmen are similar to your cowboys – tough and masculine. Conditions in rural Australia can be very challenging, with droughts very common – and floods and fires to add to the mix!

    If any of you want to look for my books, go to my website at and follow the link to buy. Unfortunately Wings is a small publisher and doesn’t distribute through the stores.

  13. Lizzie,thanks for dropping by. We do have our share of poisonous spiders and snakes, but I guess we accept them as a fact of life. I do know quite a few people (including my husband) who’ve been bitten by redback spiders, which are quite common here. We don’t get the Sydney funnel web spiders, which are much more dangerous. Mostly, if people are bitten by redbacks, they suffer swelling and fever, but recover quickly enough.

    For some reason, a favourite haunt for redbacks used to be in the old-fashioned outside lavatories. So quite a few people have been bitten on the rear end!

    Snakes are more deadly. However my brother-in-law was bitten numerous times by a poisonous brown snake, which was apparently asleep under the seat of his tractor and suffered a rude awakening when he started it up. Fortunately the angry snake must have been biting at the seat before it found his leg and had already expended all its venom. BIL had a day in hospital under observation but suffered no ill effects! I think the fright was the worst part – he was alone and isolated and had to drive himself to town to get medical help!


  14. Linda, Stacey and Pam, I’ve just been checking out your websites. I love those cowboy covers!

    So many books and so little time to read them all. Do you ladies have the same dilemma? Life is so busy and we have to find time to write – there’s never enough time to read all the books I’d like. I work part-time at a library which I love, but I wish I had more time to read the books I handle there!


  15. G’day mate! I’ve always wanted to travel to Australia and New Zealand but for the time being I’ll have to read about them. Do you live in a city now or are you still in the Outback? Very interesting.

  16. G’day Susan! I hope you can come down under some day. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

    I still live in what some people would call the Outback – although it depends on the definition of Outback! I live on a mixed grain/cattle farm 20 klm from the closest town, which has a population of around 900. The closest cities are 300 klm away on the coast (populations 70-80,000). Brisbane is 1000 klm away. One only has to travel a few miles to be out of the farming country and into the cattle country I write about in my books.

    Australia is the world’s driest continent and the interior – the real outback – is very arid and inhospitable. I truly admire the people who live there.


  17. Many, many years ago I read lots of Lucy Walker romances that were set in the Outback, and have loved that setting ever since – not to mention the cowboys! Thank you for sharing with us today, and I look forward to reading your books, Heather.

  18. Hi Carole,
    I used to read Lucy Walker too, many years ago. They were probably the first romances I ever read.
    Thanks for joining us here and I hope you enjoy the books!


  19. Akk! Eeep! Oh my gosh–your poor brother, Heather! That had to be terrifying!! Do believe the MOST DEADLY snakes are there in Austrailia. We have rattle snakes and coral snakes around here–but mostly we deal with garder snakes, while not venomous, they are viscious. Gopher snakes look like rattlers, but they’ll just cruise along and don’t bother you unless you bother them. A garder snake will CHASE you. Those black and yellow buggers give me the willies!

    So glad your brother was all right 😀

    In regards to your reading question—–YES, I so wish I had more time to read. So many books to write and research to be….researched. Reading for personal pleasure is pushed beyond the backseat and into the trunk 😉

  20. Do you live in a rural area too, Stacey?

    You’re right – the most deadly snake in the world is the Western Taipan, which fortunately lives in Central Australia which is sparsely populated. However on the north coast of Queensland we have the eastern Taipan, which is extremely aggressive and also very deadly.

    Where I live we have the Eastern Brown, which though very venonous is normally quite shy and doesn’t usually attack unless provoked. It was one of them which picked on my brother-in-law!

    Poor guy, he rang the emergency number on his mobile (cell) and reached a call centre in Victoria, at the other end of the country! He lost confidence in the ambulance’s ability to find him, so got in his vehicle and drove. And this is the funny part – on the way he passed the ambulance coming out to get him, but just gave it a wave! He was okay, he reckoned – perhaps they were going for someone who really needed help! Needless to say the ambulance officer wasn’t impressed when he found out what had happened.

    Rattle snakes are quite venonous too, aren’t they?

  21. Waving hello! Your book sounds wonderful. I have always wanted to visit Australia and it is the setting of one of my favorite “westerns”…QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER.

    Australia’s frontier history sounds fascinating!

  22. Your stories sound great. Australia is a place I have always wanted to go. I had a pen pal from there when I was in high school.

    I love that accent. It adds alot to a sexy man to have that accent.

  23. Hi Jennifer,
    Nice to hear from you. It’s a long while since I saw “Quigley down Under” but I remember enjoying it. It featured the Australian Aborigines and a rather dark period of our history. I do remember thinking the Australian characters were portrayed as a bad lot!

    Aborigines also feature in my novel, The Cornstalk. One of my characters is speared by an Aborigine and nearly dies. But fortunately my hero doesn’t feel the need to take part in an avenging massacre.

  24. I admit it has been a while for me as well (seeing Quigley that is), but that it is interesting to hear an Australian’s take on it. And it is interesting that you included the Aborigines in the story as well. I admit my knowledge of Australian History is sadly lacking, but I always like to learn new things.

  25. We certainly have a lot of parallels in our history – you with the Indians (or Native Americans) and us with our Aborigines. As with the Indians, tribes varied in their warlike tendencies. The ones in this area were quite aggressive at times and even more so in the far north.

  26. hi Heather, I must admit until I saw Quigley, I had no idea about Aussie cowboys or the parallel genocide against the Aborigines. I really enjoyed your post today!

  27. Hi Heather,
    You’ve had an adventurous upbringing. I’ve lived in the city all my life. I don’t know if I could survive in “the wild.”

  28. Thanks to Petticoats and Pistols for having me here. It’s been great talking to you all. I’m sorry I’ve been a bit out of synch with all of you. It’s now Monday morning here and I have to dash off to town.

    Thanks for your comment, Jane – I guess it’s what you grow up with. I don’t think I could survive city traffic etc!
    One of you will be winning a copy of The Cornstalk – I hope you enjoy it!

  29. that’s so interesting!I have a really good cyber friend who’s from Brisbane!

    I have never read a book set in Australia and would really love to!

  30. Oh, my ever-lovin’ and I wanted to go to Austrialia when we were younger, but we were living our own ranch life and never did. Just going away for a weekend was a hassle. All the animals had to be fed, and of course the horses all ate differently. Argh!
    But you certainly know how confining ranch life is, Heather! And living in the back of beyond must have been really isolated. Thanks for sharing your world with us.
    It’s 10:30 pm in Southwest Florida. Wonder what time it is where your are? 🙂

  31. Hello there, Melissa and Joyce. It is now 4.37 pm Monday here and I’ve just got home after a volunteer stint putting together a local newsletter.
    Joyce, I know what you mean about animals having to be fed. Although we get it fairly easy, as the cattle and horses are out in the paddock, so it’s only the dogs, cats and chooks (chickens) which have to be fed on a daily basis. Luckily we have family living fairly close who can help out when we go away.

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